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Thread: Thoughts on string packaging as it relates to the environment

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Dec 2017
    Ivins, UT

    Thoughts on string packaging as it relates to the environment

    I have been using a competitors strings for 30 some-odd years. An issue here and there but always taken care of.

    I recently purchased a 3 pack of Ernie Ball Regular Slinky guitar strings. Just to expand my horizons (I'll be checking out some others too-I like to step outside my comfort zones The strings came in a plastic/metallic-ish bag and then each set was wrapped in a plastic bag and each string was in a separate paper envelope. The only thing marked as being recyclable were the paper envelopes.

    My question:

    Is it important to my fellow guitar players to be environmentally conscious? Do you think companies (like Ernie Ball) should do more to make their packaging "earth friendly"?

    I know people can be VERY brand loyal and will buy X product from X company no matter what (You know, the Ford vs. Chevy type crowd). I'm am not asking anyone to switch or anything of the like. Just curious as to how you choose a product and if environmental issue are part of that buying process. If you are concerned about it; would you take time to voice your concerns? Do you? Have you?

    Obviously (I think) it's fairly clear where I stand. I won't be buying EB strings again. I just find it appalling that in a day and age where it is just as easy to be eco-conscious (and can even be more cost effective in many cases) that so much unnecessary plastic and such will end up in a landfill. I wrote EB a note asking the same thing and I will update this thread with their reply.

    Now, it is possible that the packaging IS recyclable; in which case, why is it not marked so?

    In conclusion, I am NOT writing this to be combative, to slam EB or to be another picketer waving a "my flag is flying and it is the only right one". I sincerely respect all views and opinions; Does NOT mean I have to like nor agree with them. I CAN still respect them and be respectful of those holding them. I am looking for dialogue and thoughts and maybe even ideas. Hell, we are al part of the musician family. We ALL share a love of the amazing thing called guitars. That makes us brothers and sisters to me...


  2. #2
    Join Date
    Aug 2012
    I’m guessing you also don’t buy Hershey or KitKat bars
    The packaging doesn’t bother me at all. I buy my strings by the 12 pack when they’re on sale. I like the last set I open to be rust free out of the package.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Mar 2011
    Rhode Island
    Welcome to the forum.

    They are packaged like that so we don't buy rusty strings. Seeing that the packaging prevents oxidation and guarantees that I get a nice set of strings, I would say that it serves a useful purpose and it isn't used for looks or cost cutting.

    2015 Luke III - BFR - Blackburst
    2014 Luke - BFR - Koa
    2013 Albert Lee - BFR (Pinkbert) with Sustainiac and Gravity Storm
    2013 Luke III - emerald green sparkle with an all rosewood neck
    2012 Morse - BFR - Dark Lord
    2012 Axis - PDN - Honeyburst
    2011 Axis - BFR - Black Sugar Roasted
    2009 Axis - Pink Quilt (Oinky) with pink video game button kill switch
    2006 StingRay - 30th Anniversary fretless

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Nov 2014
    I enjoy having strings packaged individually, in their own envelopes. My perspective is it is nice to see a company taking the extra steps to make it easy for us to grab the correct string right away, out of the package, as they are kept separate by their envelopes. In this day and age, plenty of companies "cheapen out" (like throwing all strings together into one bag), whether or not they outright state that it is the "eco friendly" thing to do.

    Just my view, of course - and this will be an interesting discussion to watch!

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jul 2006
    Paris, France
    Interesting discussion. I think it's an important question. There are lots of potential factors that can sway our purchase decisions/brand loyalty. I look at D'Addario's packaging - carton outer and plastic interior. EBMM are plastic/foil outer and paper inner. That's about the same in my mind, just opposite ways of going about solving the same problem. Personlly, I prefer the convenience of the individual paper string wrappers, rather than having six strings all together and trying to distinguish ball end colors on a dark stage in a hurry. And I also prefer the tone and feel of EBMM strings, (though D'Addario also make excellent strings) so that's my purchase decision made.

    Compared to the environmental impact of packaging from most other consumer goods, I would imagine the guitar string packaging is pretty far down the list in terms of volume. And most of my guitar playing life was a relatively thick clear plastic outer sleeve, full color printed card, and then strings in what I think may have been thicker individual paper packaging. So the current way of doing things is an improvement. And the current packaging keeping strings fresher longer may even help to keep wastage down and therefore lessen the volume a little more.

    BTW, electric guitar strings are of course recylcable too, don't forget!
    An Irishman in Paris...
    2005 LE Buttercream Silhouette Special

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  6. #6
    Join Date
    Feb 2016
    BC, Canada
    I recently restrung my acoustic 12 string with a D'Addario set. Only one plastic bag inside with two fat coils each consisting of six strings; very "green". Never seen this before; I assumed at first that one combo coil was a regular 6 string set and the second was the double-up for 12 string but this was not the case as it was obvious that one coil had the top Es and Bs combined. The ball ends were colour coded either purple or brass. The big fatties are pretty obvious and the very skinnies too but some of the intermediate gauges were not easy to gauge. For the first time in 46 years, I had to get my Vernier caliper out and double check string gauges. No biggie for me as I have the caliper but if not, I would have been guessing some of the strings' positions.

    '16 EBMM Majesty 6 Arctic Dream

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Dec 2017
    Ivins, UT
    I appreciate the replies! In reply to a couple of comments; EB string packaging is not recyclable except for the paper inserts.

    That was my issue. While in the scheme of things, this may be a minuscule piece of the amount of trash produced. However, does that justify not making the effort to do things differently? Would it be that difficult to use recyclable packaging and accomplish the same things?

    As for rusty strings, I have not gotten a rusty string from any manufacturer in decades. If that were a significant issue, it would still be very easy to make the bags recyclable.

    As for KitKats and Hersheys, I like peanut butter cups and Hersheys as a company has been using less and less pure cocoa in their chocolate over the years, so they just don't taste as good to me as other brands. And I am not sure what that has to do with strings :P But there ya go!

    I do agree that having the strings individually wrapped can be convenient. However, again, for me, I would give up that small and occasional convenience to do that little extra to be more kind to the environment. I guess having small children again has really made me re-evaluate life and the world. I want them and their children to have a beautiful world to enjoy. Does my minuscule amount of action make a difference? Well, if I don't do it, I have no right to complain about the amount of trash that pollutes our earth do I?

    Again, I really do appreciate the willingness to discuss and everyones candor. If there is one thing we can all do better it's communicate!

    As an aside; to date, I have not gotten a reply from EB

    Peace and rock ya'll!

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Feb 2017
    I love Ernie Ball packaging, especially the Super Slinkys, I love that pink color. And I appreciate the fact that the strings are packaged to keep them from rusting or going dead. I know the individual string envelopes are recyclable, but I don't know about the outer packaging.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Jan 2018
    Me too +1
    Very 80s
    Funny thing I saw the title
    I was playing my new Nintendo switch and a game has an intro where you enter a guitar shop during the cinematic scene
    On the wall is a whole rack of EBMM slinky, super slinky, in yellow , pink, green (I believe my fave is the 7 string super slinky light top heavy bottom?)... but I was so amused that Japan loves EBMM too... they do know the best, and in fact, Ibanez is the only other company I think is able to be on par with an American company (they’re j custom series is proof )

    In any case, I think EBMM being recognized by the biggest video game console ever is pretty cool so congrats guys!

    On a side note, is there a flat wound set, like a jazz 8/9 light top, with a 54/56 bottom? 6 or 7 string
    (It’s for a fretless vigier)

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Sep 2004
    Mililani, Hawaii
    "However, does that justify not making the effort to do things differently?"

    Are you implying that Ernie Ball has not made an effort? If so, how could you possibly know that? Aren't you just making an assumption?

    But to answer your question:
    "Do you think companies (like Ernie Ball) should do more to make their packaging "earth friendly"?"

    Yes. I care about pollution. But I also want a quality product -- which includes the strings not being rusty, as well as being identifiable, i.e. I can easily and quickly see which string is the "11" and which one is the "9" -- at a reasonable price. If that means non-recyclable packaging, then so be it.

    Maybe one day, a solution will be found that is economical and cuts down on solid waste and is less polluting, but until that day comes, some -- and it really is some, if one looks at the big picture -- trash that doesn't get recycled is truly a small price to pay for the greater benefit of a better product at a reasonable price.

    Maybe where you live, rust on guitar strings is not an issue. If so, good for you. But where I live, humidity is a problem.
    "Jeff Porcaro's equipment speaks for itself"

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Feb 2008
    I do what I can to be "earth friendly," but not if it means sacrificing quality of something that's important to me. Call it selfish if you want, but there it is.

    To me, the sealed foil packages are superior to the old plastic pouch approach. I can buy 10 or 12 sets at a time, save a little money and be sure that when I get to the last one, it will still be good. That wasn't always the case with the old packaging when I could buy three or four and sometimes have trouble with that last set. High humidity and fluctuating temps will do that. And the last time I got a set of strings where they were all wound around each other, I tied those things in such a knot trying to get them apart that I couldn't use them, so I'm voting for the individual pouches, too.
    My stuff:
    2007 Axis Pacific Blue Burst (9/25/07)
    2016 Axis Super Sport Starry Night PDN (11/23/16)
    1989 Fender HM Strat HSS Blackstone
    2016 Gibson Les Paul Studio Deluxe Caribbean Night
    1995 Washburn N2 Padauk Stain
    2017 Taylor 224ce-K DLX Koa
    SBMM JP70 Trans Purpleburst
    SBMM S.U.B. SB4 Black
    A half-dozen pawn shop beaters no one cares about

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